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Everything You Need to Know About Physiatry

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  • Written By: Fox Valley Orthopedics
Everything You Need to Know About Physiatry

Using Physiatry to Help Treat Your Pain

Also known as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R), physiatry is a beneficial multidisciplinary medical specialty that our team at Fox Valley Orthopedics uses to help care for patients with chronic, degenerative joint pain.

Learn more about this specialty and when to seek care below:

What is Physiatry?

Physiatry helps people with disorders or illnesses regain function and improve their quality of life. Physiatrists are physicians who have completed medical school plus four years of residency training.

Physiatrists help patients with many different types of degenerative chronic pain disorders. Some of the most commonly treated conditions include:

  • Fibromyalgia: a type of chronic pain disorder characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue, sleep disturbances, and memory problems.
  • Herniated/bulging discs: when rubbery discs that act as cushions between the bones of your spine bulge or rupture.
  • Spinal stenosis: a condition caused by the spinal canal narrowing.
  • Degenerative disc disease: a type of wear-and-tear on your discs that happens with aging.
  • Facet joint arthritis: caused by inflammation and degeneration of the small joints that connect one vertebra to another in your spine.
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction: caused by inflammation or injury to the SI joint, which connects the pelvis and spine.

When to See a Physiatrist

According to the Association of American Physiatrists, the demand for physiatry care is increasing. Studies have shown that the aging population is expanding and working to a later age — causing a rise in joint damage and injury. Additionally, the number of Americans with a disability is rising.

You should see a physiatrist if you have a physical disability that is limiting your ability to function in daily life. A physiatrist can help you manage your condition and improve your quality of life.

Recommended Treatment Options

Physiatrists typically recommend various treatments to help manage the symptoms of these chronic pain conditions. These can include:

Physical Therapy

Physiatrists make and manage medical diagnoses and prescribe treatment. Physical therapists carry out treatment interventions that can include a musculoskeletal examination, manual therapy, an exercise regimen, and physical modalities including heat, cold and electrical stimulation.

Electrical Stimulation

A physiatrist may recommend electrical stimulation if you are dealing with chronic pain. This involves sending electrical impulses to the nerves to block the pain signals from reaching the brain.

Joint Injections/Nerve Blocks

Physiatrists use joint injections to relieve pain and improve function in the affected joint. The medication is injected into the area between the bones that make up the joint.

Similarly, nerve blocks are used to relieve pain by numbing a specific area. The physiatrist will insert a needle into the area of the nerve that is causing pain. A local anesthetic will be injected to numb the site, which can provide relief for several hours or even days.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery may be necessary in some cases to correct the underlying pain-causing problem. A physiatrist will refer you to a surgeon if this is the case. Common procedures that may be recommended include spinal fusions or total/partial joint replacements. Your physiatrist will also make recommendations for prehabilitation and rehabilitation.

Seek Relief for Your Pain at Fox Valley Orthopedics

Overall, physiatrists are experts in treating chronic pain disorders. They work closely with their patients to develop comprehensive treatment plans that help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. If you are living with a chronic pain condition, it is essential to seek the guidance of a physiatrist to help you find ways to cope with your situation and improve your quality of life.

If you have been dealing with aches and pains, don’t put off getting help another day. Call (630) 584-1400 today to schedule your appointment with our experienced team at Fox Valley Orthopedics.

August 2022 blog